Lightning Welk – The State Shell of Texas
In 1987 “The Ledge”, to borrow a term from the late columnist and author Molly Ivins when referring to the Texas Legislature, designated the Lightning Welk as the official state shell of Texas.
The large and distinctive Lightning Welk is found only in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeast Atlantic coast of the USA. These shells have inhabited our waters for 60 million years and have been significant to cultures in our history. Native Americans used welks as food, housewares, weapons, jewelry, and religious ceremonies. They have also been found in burial grounds. Left-handed shells are considered sacred in some parts of Asia and India. Because the Lightning Welk has become quite popular with collectors, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has enacted protective regulations to prevent over harvesting thus limiting a reduction in the Lightning Welk population.
The Lightning Welk is distinguishable by the counter-clockwise coiling of its whorls and the aperture or opening on the left. They are often called “left-handed”. A Lightening Welk will grow to a maximum size of 8 inches in 10 t0 20 years; however, some have reached 16 inches.
The Lightning Welk photographs in this blog were taken at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas.